Christians Must Say No To Makkal Osai’s Suspension

My friend and fellow Christian (and Lutheran 🙂 ) Bob alerted me to this whole incident when I thought the case should have been closed after hearing of Makkal Osai offering their apologies. Life should have moved on until we heard of their suspension. The fact is our Christian faith is not treated by any altered picture or even parody. I do not think this event would “endanger public order”. It may be inappropriate (as well as an innocent mistake with no intention to hurt others) , of course, some may be more offended than others. But it doesn’t have to be a big deal. At least, it’s not for me , I’m a Christian. I’m serving as a pastor. I’m not fuming with anger and waving my Bible demanding for justice and punishment on them (I admit I was a little disturbed but not shaken or over concerned). I’ll need to hear from my Roman Catholic friends how they feel. I’m a little puzzled by the action against this mistake when not too long ago I read of more serious remarks quoted in the blog post Are Christians lepers? (where there was a call for an apology – I haven’t heard anything on that yet.  Apparently, there’s No Action Against UMNO Supporters’ Website? on that matter.)  All these latest developments, may cause  some discomfort for some, it does force us to pause and wonder what on earth is going on in our media whether it’s online or off line.

Overall, I think as Christians we would like to focus our energies and intelligence to deal with unjust and unfair issues which concerns us ALL than to be preoccupied with a tweaked image of Jesus (which the paper as already admitted their error and apologized for it). So far all the official statements from the MCCBCHST and the CCM seem to indicate, “It’s over now, let’s move on”. But since there were comments made on banning them and I was surprised that a political party was even more zealous in taking action than the Christians, I’ll repost Bob’s post for some update and commentary, for catching up on the story read Holy Smokin’ Jesus Controversy Paper Suspended! (Updated) first. Take note of the comments (at least the level headed ones) :

Christians Must Say No To Makkal Osai’s Suspension


Lift The Suspension Of Makkal Osai Immediately!
Do Not Use My Faith As An Excuse For Oppression!

When the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malaysia (ELCM), Rev Dr Julius Paul, went on the record to ask for the banning of Makkal Osai in the aftermath of the publishing of a doctored picture of the Sacred Heart with Jesus portrayed as holding a cigarette and a can of beer, I don’t think he realised the wider implications of his statement.

Malaysiakini has now reported that Makkal Osai has been suspended for 30 days by the Ministry of Internal Security as the “publication of the image was inappropriate and could endanger public order“. Now, let’s look at what this means ..

.. for starters, it is common knowledge that the space for discourse on civil society and community issues within the Tamil speaking community in Malaysia is very limited and generally dominated by the government owned media (like RTM) or MIC owned mouthpieces. This same sorry situation is replicated in a lot of civic organisations that the community participates in.

Makkal Osai has generally been much more independent in its editorial policy and has recently been doing a series of in-depth reports on an issue that MIC very much wants people to forget .. the alleged mismanagement of Maika Holdings. By coming out in public to demand for the banning of a newspaper due to an incident that the paper has apologised for and the main aggrieved party (ie. the Roman Catholic Church) has seen fit to consider closed could only have strengthened the hands of those who would like to shut down this inconvenient publication.

The Bishop, representing a denomination that makes up approximately 0.1% of the Christian population in Malaysia, has essentially, by the nature of his office and the authority that the office comes with, implicated the almost 3 million strong Christian community in this country in an exercise to further reduce the already restricted space available for civic discourse for the Tamil speaking Indian community in Malaysia. Whether or not this will drive the wedge between the Christian community and the Indian community (which are primarily Hindu) remains to be seen.

As a Lutheran myself, albeit from a sister denomination, I am ashamed that Lutheranism has lent its name to this subtle exercise in the suppression of civic discourse. It is bad enough that the Church tends to remain silent when abuses of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights occur in this country. To be a party of such abuse is a real jaw dropping moment!

Perhaps the Bishop would do well to have a look at what the Church of Sweden, the companion synod of the ELCM, and the larger Lutheran communion has had to say about the churches role in ensuring social justice be done and the church acting as agents of change:

As a Christian, I urge my fellow Christians to join me to say NO to Makkal Osai’s suspension and urge that it be lifted. This perhaps can be one way we can seek to salvage this sorry state of affairs and start on a journey of reconciliation.

I am a Christian* Malaysian and I was not offended by the accidental depiction of a picture of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette and a beer can in Makkal Osai.
Free Makkal OsaiLift The Suspension Of Makkal Osai Immediately!
Do Not Use My Faith As An Excuse For Oppression!Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
(Isaiah 58:6)

Note
* strike off if not applicable

 

 

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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19 Responses to Christians Must Say No To Makkal Osai’s Suspension

  1. Emmanuel says:


    Christians Must Say No To Makkal Osai’s Suspension

    Your blog post title is very arrogant, Mr Sivin! Your use of the word “must” is unacceptable as it sounds like a divine command. I am a Christian Catholic from the Latin Rite and I will say YES to Makkal Osai’s suspension for this newspaper committed blasphemy against Christ our Lord. The Tamil newspaper published a doctored icon, which is a desecration of the original icon and an insult against the Church, the body of Christ which awards the title Christian to humans.


    The fact is our Christian faith is not treated by any altered picture or even parody. I do not think this event would “endanger public order”.

    You are a nobody to tell Christians for you, Mr Sivin are under anathema of the Holy Ecumenical Synod of Trent that condemned Protestants are both heretics and schismatics. The Christian faith is based on icons and anyone who rejects worship of icons is under anathema for iconoclasm, a heresy in both the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches. The Cathecism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is clear that “Outside the Church there is no salvation”.


    It may be inappropriate (as well as an innocent mistake with no intention to hurt others) , of course, some may be more offended than others. But it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

    Many Christians including myself are very very offended and we have every right to make this into a big deal as this is the best time to suppress freedom of speech.


    At least, it’s not for me , I’m a Christian. I’m serving as a pastor. I’m not fuming with anger and waving my Bible demanding for justice and punishment on them

    Its not blasphemy to you because you are no Christian but a person guilty of hypocrisy. You were ordained as a pastor (priest?) but its invalid as you, Protestants have no Apostolic Succession and thus are schismatics, heretics, or both. Your Lutheran Church was founded by a heretic Martin Luther who rebeled against the Holy Catholic Church, which was founded by St. Peter the Apostle.

    Serving the name of the Most Holy Trinity.

  2. Bob K says:

    Might be a good idea to actually contact the guy who runs the Jihadwatch site to see if it really is him. Otherwise, it might just be another dose of Gary’ism.

  3. u-liang says:

    I’m sorry but I have to disagree with Bob and Pastor here. (I will leave a comment on his blog later)

    I do sincerely hope that the newspaper need not face legal action. But that is not my call to make. It is not my call either to decide who and what is offensive based on whether or not I myself have been offended.

    Of course since I’m quite net-savvy, I do read articles which really profane the name of Jesus Christ. And as such, this mistake is nothing new or something that I am alarmed about. But yet, just because I’m not offended, that doesn’t mean others cannot be offended and take recourse for their hurt.

    Personally, while the call made by Rev. Julius is regrettable, I feel that the way Bob has gone about garnering support for his point of view has the potential to cause more division rather than heal it.

  4. mr.nice guy says:

    NOOOO!!!!! We Christians MUSST unite against all this things, even though i haven’t read the entry, but i think what mr.svin said must be right cause he is a pastar and is head of churhc

  5. Bob K says:

    Of course .. maybe that’s why I came on the record to question the actions of a Bishop?! 🙂

  6. Sivin says:

    Emmanuel – huh?

    U-Liang – My position on this matter is I support the way the leadership in the Catholic Church in Malaysia, Council of Churches of Malaysia and the MCCBCHST handled the matter. It was restraint and mature and in my opinion a good model. While some Christians who are offended might prefer legal action or at least sterner action (perhaps it’s more in reaction to the inaction on others who seem to get off freely too easily, e.g. in the case I alluded in my post). On this matter, however, I think the Star’s latest report perhaps summarizes it well.

    ” The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, however, expressed regret over the one-month suspension.

    “It is an unfair and hasty decision when the council, including its Christian religious leader, had accepted the apology by the newspaper.

    “It is our opinion that a warning would have been sufficient. We will appeal to the Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister to reconsider,” said its president Datuk A. Vaithilingam”

    On a more pastoral angle, I am concerned that the employees and their family maybe affected by this suspension.

    Mr. Nice guy – please read the entry before blurting out statements. I still think hiding in anonymity is not a sign of courage especially when this is a pretty open blog. But then ….

    Bob K – while I wouldn’t have written as strongly as you would, but I think you have highlighted important issues albeit with more chilli!

  7. Sivin says:

    I just saw Anil Netto’s post Would Jesus want the Makkal Osai suspended?

    Please allow me to pick out what caught my attention:

    “Apparently, there is more to it than meets the eye – a factional dispute within the MIC could be a factor. Makkal Osai is said to be aligned to former MIC deputy president S Subramaniam while its rival Tamil Nesan is linked to MIC president Samy Vellu.

    All this hoo-ha over what seems like a genuine and innocent oversight by the Makkal Osai editor.

    Even if the “offence” was intentional, I would like to think that nothing we do can take take away from the glory and honour that rightfully belongs to God. Our insensitive actions merely reflect on us.

    Many of us think that we too should rally to the defence of Jesus as if he needs us to save his good name. Lest we forget, when the Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus and take him away to face the ultimate humiliation and degradation, Peter drew his sword in an attempt to come to Jesus’ rescue. Jesus ordered him to put it away.

    The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, stripped him bare and cruelly whipped him. But try as they might, they were unable to take away his dignity.

    On the contrary, it was Jesus’ tormentors who revealed to the world for all time the depth of their barbarity and depravity.

    So much fuss about an image of Christ when we don’t even know what Jesus actually looks like for certain. Nowhere is his appearance described in the New Testament apart from a couple of inconclusive hints in the book of Revelation.

    If you ask me, I would say Jesus would be far more offended at the way we oppress our fellow sisters and brothers in this world through war, exploitative economic systems, torture, detention without trial, oppressive laws and poverty, much of it entirely avoidable. In fact, I think he would be positively outraged.”

  8. Bob K says:

    Admonition acknowledged .. I’ll try to not graduate from chilli to wasabe. 🙂

  9. Beh Sai Kong says:

    Life seldom allows us the luxury to take one thing at a time. Things are usually much more complicated and complex than that. There are at least four principal issues here:
    1. The desecration of a religious icon dear to Christians (and Muslims):
    Christians will surely be hurt by such acts against their beloved Christ. This explains Bishop Julius Paul’s initial sense of outrage. (By the way, he never called for a ban of the newspaper involved.) Archbishop Murphy’s public statement also mentioned clearly and strongly that this cannot be condoned. Hurt is a fact and it went in deep. But that does not mean asking for a pound of flesh.
    2. The principle of freedom of expression:
    When they are calmer, Christians will realise that while they hold icons of Jesus very close to their hearts, they surely will not wish to further jeopardise freedom of expression which is already so scarce in this country. The powers that be’s reaction is first and foremost to suspend and ban contrary viewpoints. Surely the Christian Church cannot want the authorities to have greater powers over the press and media. God knows, without freedom of the press and expression the powers that be get away with anything and everything. Remember when Malaysia was declared an Islamic State, the very same government department which has now suspended Makkal Osai also banned the mainstream media from further comments on the Islamic State issue but allowing only the two top government leaders to have their comments on this issue published. Christians must also understand that stronger government control will also have the excuse to further restrict the proclamation of the gospel upon the complaint of sensitivity on the part of people of other faiths.
    3. The politicising of the issue: Clearly in this case a prominent government minister and leader of a ruling coalition party was using this case to suspend a rival newspaper which of late was focusing on the Maika statements of accounts and a possible murder case. Surely the Christian Church does not want to inadvertently become party to the successful attempt to silence the newspaper involved.
    4. What is the damage to Christ and His Church?
    Jesus said to rejoice when persecuted: “Blessed are you when people revile you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Christianity’s greatest advancements in history took place during persecution. Jesus has showed the way, the Way of the Cross and the Way of Forgiveness. Through his mature and wise manners, Archbishop Murphy has won a life-long friend: the general manager of Makkal Osai.

  10. mr.nice guy says:

    but then what? I don’t have blog and dont want post my full name lar, me church is from cheras and loves your blogs

  11. Daniel says:

    There are some times where we must take a stand, and there are other times where we must turn the other cheek. I think we can take both- take a stand *by* turning the other cheek, and show how special we are by saying that we still should let them continue publishing.

    And that comment by Emmanuel truly cracked me up. Hilarious. Trolls can be funny too, you know. 😛

  12. mackie messer says:

    Jesus is just cool. Nuff said.

  13. Anil Netto says:

    Dear Sivin Kit

    I was impressed with your post and especially coming from a pastor, it carries added weight.

    It is amazing how some Christians including Catholics get worked up about issues like this but never get outraged when at the way our sisters and brothers are treated in the world – where is the outrage at hunger, poverty, rights violations, and oppression? Their silence then is deafening.

    Progressive-minded Christians must draw strength from each other – across demonitional borders – and by this I mean Catholics and Protestants must join hands in uncovering the deeper layers or our faith and spirituality, to find the Jesus who resides in the poor and the oppressed,.

    Keep up the good work.
    Anil

  14. Collin Nunis says:

    Your blog post title is very arrogant, Mr Sivin! Your use of the word “must” is unacceptable as it sounds like a divine command. I am a Christian Catholic from the Latin Rite and I will say YES to Makkal Osai’s suspension for this newspaper committed blasphemy against Christ our Lord. The Tamil newspaper published a doctored icon, which is a desecration of the original icon and an insult against the Church, the body of Christ which awards the
    title Christian to humans.

    No, it is not arrogant and I will defend his right to call it a divine command. Jesus told us to forgive and that is the divine command, irrespective of whatever that was done. He did forgive those who crucified Him, so why must we be any different?

    Before you wear your Catholic-Christian title proudly, please note that your support for the suspension is not in tandem with your claim to being a Catholic-Christian. You may have issues with the artist for editing that picture, and the editor for allowing it to be published, but have you ever stopped to think about the other workers who work at the paper who have mouths to feed? The suspension is unjust simply because people will go out of jobs because of what one person did. Why didn’t we call for the suspension of our Catholic priests when the sexual abuse scandals developed? Think again.

    You are a nobody to tell Christians for you, Mr Sivin are under anathema of the Holy Ecumenical Synod of Trent that condemned Protestants are both heretics and schismatics. The Christian faith is based on icons and anyone who rejects worship of icons is under anathema for iconoclasm, a heresy in both the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches. The Cathecism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is clear that “Outside the Church there is no salvation”.

    If he is a heretic, whats it to you? Who are you to judge? The Reformation did us Catholics a favour. Besides, I don’t know if you know your Catechism well, but I do know that I have been taught that we Catholics do NOT worship icons. What we usually do is bow, kneel or even pray BEFORE an icon, not TO. Icons are meant to be visual aids, not substitutes for the real deal. I don’t know where you got your facts, but you are misrepresenting Catholic teaching at best. Sivin probably knows as much as I do (which may not be everything) but we know when to shut up. You just don’t.

    Many Christians including myself are very very offended and we have every right to make this into a big deal as this is the best time to suppress freedom of speech.

    Suppress freedom of speech?! Hahaha, you must be a joke. If you really are a Catholic of the Latin Rite, please remember that the Holy Father John Paul II always defended the freedom of speech, with responsibility. JPII defended freedom. You don’t. But what do I care, you’re a nobody.

    Its not blasphemy to you because you are no Christian but a person guilty of hypocrisy. You were ordained as a pastor (priest?) but its invalid as you, Protestants have no Apostolic Succession and thus are schismatics, heretics, or both. Your Lutheran Church was founded by a heretic Martin Luther who rebeled against the Holy Catholic Church, which was founded by St. Peter the Apostle.

    What concern is it to you if he’s indeed a heretic? At least more people knew of Jesus because of Luther. It was because of him we realised the importance and centrality of Jesus. Open your eyes and mind and see that there are more important things to worry about. There is more to Catholicism than the things that you talk about (Sacraments, the true Church etc) and it’s about following the Gospel of Jesus. Remember, Jesus saves, not the Pope.

  15. Bob K says:

    Wow Collin, that’s a lot of fire in your belly 🙂

    In view of the few comments that I’ve received that have questioned why I chose to take the stand that I did, I posted a follow up post to give a more detailed rationale.

    I must admit I was somewhat hot headed in my response and since I was actually rushing to go out, I did not take the necessary care that was warranted before posting my original “Say No” post.

    I am, however, very encouraged by the positive response garnered, despite my indiscretion and lack of sensitivity. There’s hope for us all yet.

    Kyrie Eleison.

  16. Pingback: Government Punishes Makkal Osai Over Picture: What Would Jesus Do?

  17. mr.nice guy says:

    Jesus drink beer and smoke, its cool, that what i do all the time!

  18. Collin Nunis says:

    Fairly, whatever it is, I think that it would be insensitive of us to support the ban. There was no wrong on your part Bob. Moderates like ourselves, while being dedicated to our Lord, need to keep a cool head in handling issues like these. Nevertheless, until the Govt rescinds the suspension, we must not shut up.

    By the way Mr Nice Guy, while we know Jesus drank, its no excuse to get drunk.

  19. Sivin says:

    Collin – apparently the Mr. Emmanuel is a “troll” and not associated with the link he put in Jihadwatch. The extra info I have is below:

    contact@menj.org | jihadwatch.org | IP: 218.208.229.7

    the IP address is similar to what Bob has here Has The Troll Crossed The Line? (Updated)

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